The Gadsden Flag And Don’t Tread On Me Culture For Survivalists

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The Gadsden Flag is one of the symbols of survivalists in the US, especially in 2023. The meaning of the image on this flag follows every survivalist’s main belief — be independent and do not rely on someone.

Don’t tread on me is an ideology of strong people who can always stand up for themselves and survive without other people’s help.

This statement is close to survivalists’ philosophy because no one can save their life without confidence in their strength.

You should be ready to be alone in extreme conditions where no one but your survival skills and preppers knowledge will protect your body, your shelter, and your supply.

The same idea was popular among Americans during the establishment of the state. Self-sufficiency made America what it is now.

This concept was widely spread after the United States’ formation, and there were a lot of symbols that presented it. Once America began to refer to stripes and stars, the spirit of independence disappeared from official attributes.

Adaptation to Old Glory introduced concession in the fighting for the freedom of colonies from foreign countries. Americans struggled with the ruling of the British on their territory, and the Gadsden Flag is a significant sign of their achievements.

We devote this article to the concept of independence and the history of the Don’t Tread On Me movement that is crucial in the survival culture.

Stay with us if you want to prepare not only your gear and body for survival but also your mind.


The Main Element — Rattlesnake

Here is the video with a description of all aspects we will cover in this report. Pay attention to it, and you will know all details about the Gadsden Flag and its importance in modern times.

The first question that appears in your mind looking at the Flag is why did the rattlesnake become the sign of Americans’ self-sufficiency?

To understand this fact, we need to go deeper into the history of the US.

Firstly, the rattlesnake was a local animal in 13 colonies of that time.


Secondly, it is tightly connected with the political situation in America in 1754. Benjamin Franklin, revolutionist and slave owner, made a drawing for a newspaper with a modified snake. He divided the snake into eight parts, where each of them was reserved for the first colonies. Franklin located New England in the head and South Carolina in the tail with the remark “Join Or Die.”

If you still do not understand the sense of this picture, here is the explanation.

The only chance to become an autonomous state was the integration of every part of America and their joint struggle with the tyranny of the British.

The cartoon of Benjamin Franklin was a public demonstration against the ruling of foreigners that started to be popular among other politicians and media.

Paul Revere published this caricature in the Massachusetts Spy in 1774 when one year reminded before the American revolution.

At that time, it was the only symbol of separated colonies and with a strong call for unification. The snake meant that Americans are ready for independence, and they would do everything to achieve their goal.

The Gadsden History

The caricature of Benjamin Franklin caused the creation of a flag that became the main symbol of independence of the American colonies. The design was slightly changed, but the rattlesnake remained in the center of it. So, the main elements of the Flag are the rattlesnake intending to attack, a yellow field, and a meaningful phrase “Don’t Tread On Me” on the bottom of the flag.

The American Revolution by the Cartoon Creator

G128 - Don't Tread

Benjamin Franklin was a politician who made a great contribution to the national movements by his actions and statements. He gave some comments about his rattlesnake, and we will describe them below.

So, the main reason for his choice about the picture was that the rattlesnake is typical only for America, and it is a great point to make her a sign of this nation.

He also noticed some features of this snake that make this snake different from any other species. It was the special glance of this snake that shows alertness and concentration. These characteristics are remarkable because of the bright eyes of the snake and the absence of eye-lids.

Even though the rage is visible in her eyes, the rattlesnake will never start an attack, but if she begins, this snake will not let herself be offended. Courage is a trait similar to Americans and the snake. Here the courage means that the snake provides an opportunity for her opponent to back off. She warns you that she will kill you, and you should not create some conflicts or even tread on her.

Warning about an assault is a feature of a wise and generous creature. That is why the messages perceived from the rattlesnake and Americans have some similarities. Defense but not attacked was the trait of colonies at that time.

As regards the physical characteristics of the snake, her poison is deadly dangerous, but she used it mostly for eating but not for protection. The same situation is with the power of the US nation. Their power is a means of life, but if someone provokes Americans to start protection, power will be the cause of their win and freedom.

This comparison between residents of colonies and an animal still makes sense. It helps them to cooperate and start an American revolution to get liberty and respect from other countries.

The snake was a symbol of America until the bald eagle replaced it. However, the spirit of Americans has not changed — their protection and readiness to fend for themselves is still their strong point.

Flags Of Minutemen

3X5'' Culpeper Minute The design of the Gadsden flag was modified by Culpepper Minutemen. They made the white background and added the phrase “Liberty or Death” to it. It was applied in Virginia by volunteers.

Later the flag became an official symbol and was printed by the War Office. Headquarters of the Army also updated the flag by adding an ensign with the words “This We’ll Defend.”

The main point was to convey that the continental army of America is always ready for defense, but they will never start a fight.

The Gadsden Flag has been an official symbol of the army for 236 years, with some replacements in the design during this period.

Alternatives To Gadsden Flag

The Flag was not the only flag with the rattlesnake as the main symbol, and there were many variations with different words and pictures on them. For instance, First Navy Jack was the flag of the U.S. Navy with the snake and stripped background.

Christopher Gadsden from South Carolina was the first person who received official credit for his project of the flag. Then many politicians and painters tried to improve the design, but this one remained the favorite flag among the public.

1775 was a significant year for revolutionists because the British army caused conflicts with Americans. The start of this struggle was at the begging of the fall when the British capture Boston but the American continental army did not have enough weapons for the battle. Nevertheless, the Battle of Bunker Hill happened, and Washington’s armies were defeated. In October of 1775 British sent a merchant ship with thousands of weapons to Philadelphia. American Congress did not understand the message and attacked the cargo ships to capture a valuable shipment.

Later, the Second Continental Congress decided to gather five troops from the U.S. Marine Corps for the navy expedition, and it started in Philadelphia. Marines played the drums on the event devoted to the beginning of their adventure, and these drums included the image of the snake with the motto “Don’t Tread on Me.” So, it was the first official presentation of the Gadsden Flag.

Besides, Christopher Gadsden was one of the infantrymen who participated in this historical event. He gave a yellow flag with a coiled rattlesnake to Esek Hopkins, commander-in-chief, to make the flag a distinctive element of one of the flagships. Then the Gadsden Flag was fixed at the mainmast as the first representation of freedom and courage of Americans.

Flag included not only its standard parts but also the slogan “In God We Hope” surrounded by artillery and anchor.

Another case when Cristopher Gadsden showed his flag to the government was in February 1776. That time he gave a copy to Congress in Charleston, South Carolina, and proposed to make it an official flag of the U.S. Navy.

Resurrection Of the Symbol

The revolutionary war was not the only occasion when this flag was an emblem of the nation’s intentions. A wave of patriotism made it a sign of disagreement and declaration of personal opinion against the authorities.

Citizens still protect civil rights with this flag during the fight against damaging actions of the government. A coiled rattlesnake is a great presentation of disagreement with inequalities and injustices in the country, and many liberal coalitions have been using it for the statement of their volition.

When the government forgets about the population and only tries to enrich their budgets through taxation or infringements of the people, the nation will not turn a blind eye to it but will struggle for their rights and welfare.

Make sure you understand the historical meaning of this symbol while using it. There is a belief that it is a sign of disagreement with foreign countries. However, Gadsden created a banner against the government of America but not against a foreign one in 1775. The British, especially their king, ruled America at that time, and it was the government of the US.

Gadsden Flag on the warship declared the struggle with the unfair home state but not with the foreign rulers. Members of the warship were trying to state their opinion as citizens but not just soldiers of the U.S. Navy. An official declaration of independence was later, in 1776, and until this moment, it was an uprising of indifferent residents of states.

Gadsden Emblem Of Protest

Once the history is clear, we understand the reason for the usage of the Gadsden Flag nowadays. When Americans are trying to present their self-defense today, they refer to this symbol that unified thousands of people from the corrupted government more than 200 years ago. It gives them a belief in a chance to illustrate personal wishes and turn ruling and laws in favor of the public.

For instance, one of the libertarian circles, the Tea Party, uses the flag to verify and make stronger their enunciations for faithful citizens of America.

Tea Party movement, US soccer team, Major League Soccer, and other powerful and dissent organizations apply that flag with the purpose similar to its origins — sending a message inside the country but not outside it.

Although the Gadsden flag is a correct presentation of native Americans, it was decided to use stripes and stars as the official image of the US. The thing is that the previous format describes the opinion of the individual but of the nation, but the current flag of the States shows the unification and merging of nations. It is more appropriate to present the shared interests of the population to other countries than the wishes of one person.

Americans were not so powerful in 1775, and they were similar to the rattlesnake protecting herself from enemies. Nowadays, our country cannot be identified lone animal because it is a strong and influential country.

The Conversation Ongoing

The US has a lot of opponents abroad, but the main opponent of citizens are their authorities. Rulers can tread their nation without noticing it. That is why we should be alert and forceful when our rights are in danger.

Americans are those who value their freedom and protect it from wrong decisions of the ruling party. The Gadsden Flag is the thing that taught Americans to fight for freedom and justice.

The government will always remember how every member of the colonies battled in revolution, and they will know that Americans cannot forgive a betray from authorities.

Thomas Jefferson said still relevant words about the freedom of the population. He believed that people should not be afraid of the authorities. They should scare the government to achieve freedom and avoid tyranny.

The recent situation in Washington when Donald Trump supporters stormed Capitol demonstrated that Americans are ready to declare their opinion about politics. During the demonstration near the Capitol, in favor of the vice president, citizens were carrying various flags, for example, the Confederate Battle Flag and the Gadsden flag. It means that Christopher Gadsden made a valuable contribution to the development of civic consciousness and protests in America.


What is the origin of Don’t Tread On Me?

It is the phrase that is connected with the American revolution in 1775. It was a message to authorities that Americans are always ready to protect themselves from violation of their independence by corrupted rulers. Originally this motto was written on the Gadsden Flag with the timber rattlesnake always ready to attack if someone will break her persona space.

What does the Don’t Tread on Me flag symbolize?

It was a sign of the fight for independence against colonizers and colonists in America in 1775. This emblem was a battle flag on the warship of the group who went to a battle together with the continental navy. These flags were an announcement of the power and freedom of American colonies at that time.

Is Don’t Tread on Me About Guns?

Gun ownership is one of the Gadsden Flag originated topics because it is a way of personal protection in America. In recent years people are trying to achieve the legalization of guns in all states because only firearms can provide everyday security to citizens of America. Of course, 250 years ago, this phrase and flag were not about guns, but now it is an element of one of the civic movements.

What does no step on SNEK mean?

The meaning of these words is similar to “Don’t tread on me,” drawn on the flag by Cristopher Gadsden. It is a simplified version of the revolution phrase that is popular on the Internet. Once the meme with this expression was created, it was distributed through several websites and became popular among internet users.


A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.




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